I've been mulling over this leather belt situation all week..
I bought it before I became vegan and found it in the bottom of my drawer the other day.
My initial thought was, I have to throw it out. After all, one cow, or more, was skinned horrifically to produce that item, something I never gave a second thought when I bought it many years ago.
I'm vegan now, I shouldn't own animal products, and I certainly shouldn't be wearing them, or should I?
Amidst my thoughts about the diabolical leather industry and how entirely unnecessary the pain and suffering is when we have so many alternatives, I began thinking that it would be even more disrespectful to the animal(s) that suffered in my belt's making to just toss it in the garbage.
I mean, surely that renders those lives even more worthless.
And so I got to thinking that I should take care of the belt for as long as possible: to keep it, respect it and honour it as a symbol of my going vegan and of that animal's precious life.
But then what would people say, both vegans and non-vegans?
I'd be called out as hypocritical no doubt, and my explanation would probably fall on deaf ears.
So I considered giving the belt away. I could give it to a charity shop, or someone I know who needs a belt.
But there's a problem with that too.
If i give someone a leather belt, does it not give out a signal to say it's okay to wear leather products. That person might be so impressed with the belt's quality that they go out and buy more leather products, god forbid!
So it begs the question, what should new vegans do with their old leather products?
And what about silk scarves or wool jumpers, and how about creams and makeup that were probably tested on animals?
Should it all be thrown in the bin? Should it be given to charity? Should it be given to friends in need?
My feeling is that the existing leather products we have should still be put to good use, while campaigning for the cause that no more be made, ever.
Leather is a part of our history, and even though we want it to become a part of everyone else's' history too, many leather goods will last many years beyond this post I'm writing now.
Let's not insult animals further by tossing their skin into the bin.
Let's honour their memory by using the products until they are no longer usable.
Let these products be a reminder in our lives of why we should not buy any more leather products and stop production for good.
And if we do decide to give a leather product away, let's make damn sure we educate the person we are giving it to on the horrors of the leather industry.
Let's show them the gruesome videos and explain exactly why we have stopped buying leather and why they should too.
Our old leather goods can don't need to be wasted lives, they can serve as educational tools and stark daily reminders of why animals are not for us to wear.